Pucker Up, Northfield
The annual Northfield Arts Guild fundraiser returns this year with Kiss Me Weirdly.
For the past three years, Brendon Etter has delved into the topic of love, pulling back different layers and giving Northfielders a glimpse into what the heavy subject means to different people. There was sex—twice over—and love, or was it danger? This year, it's all about kissing.
Whether you grin or grimace at the thought of baudy humor, Etter's take on the topic, written for the Northfield Arts Guild stage, was and continues to be for a good cause.
In its fourth year, the NAG holds its annual fundraiser, which opens Friday and runs through Jan. 22. This year's series of short plays is titled Kiss Me Weirdly.
Etter, who also acts and directs in the production, recently took time to answer questions for Northfield Patch.
Northfield Patch: How do you top the past three fundraisers? Do you feel pressure to do so?
Brendon Etter: I don't compare them too much. I want the shows to raise money for the Arts Guild, and I want actors to have fun with new material, and I want to hear how my plays are received. That's enough pressure by itself without trying to compare them with past efforts.
Northfield Patch: Where did you draw inspiration for the five short plays of "Kiss Me Weirdly?"
Etter: I sit down and start writing. Sometimes, an idea is there—characters, settings, the essential elements—but often, I just write a line of dialogue, and then another part of my brain pops up and answers that line, prompting another line and so on. Eventually, a simple plot forms around those lines, and the characters start talking for themselves to advance that plot. These five plays needed kissing. That was the only difference for me this time.
Northfield Patch: What's the most difficult part of the annual fundraiser process for you? Writing? Acting? Or watching others act out your characters?
Etter: This will only be the second time I've acted in these plays. My wife [Ann] and I were in one called "Smoking" for the first year's fundraising plays—Sex With Seven Women. But I didn't act in the second year's set—Sex With Seven Men—or last year's compilation—Love and/or Danger. The most difficult part of the process is not included in your question: logistics. The Arts Guild, the actors, technical people, ushers and house management all help bring the plays to the stage and make the event happen. My wife helps me coordinate some of the practical side of production too, which makes things run much more smoothly.
Northfield Patch: You're known for writing a lot. How long did it take you to finalize "Kiss Me Weirdly?"
Etter: The writing only took a couple days. Finding actors that I trust and that I know will deliver on stage took longer. Getting all the other elements of the production together takes a couple months.
Northfield Patch: What's your favorite of the five short plays? Why?
Etter: Sorry, can't really answer that. I honestly like them all for different reasons ...
Northfield Patch: What's your least favorite of the five short plays? Why?
Etter: ... and I honestly dislike them all for different reasons. I'm a very harsh critic of my own writing; so I'm always thinking of lines, words, plot points to change. However, I also know I have to let go and let the plays hit the stage, or they would sit there—perpetually imperfect and undone.
Northfield Patch: Does the show deliver on kissing or is it more of a tease?
Etter: It delivers. It's PG-13 overall. The kissing is there.
Northfield Patch: Will kissing get weirder next year?
Etter: Everyone will define a kiss differently. Some might see most of the kisses in “Kiss Me Weirdly” as deriving from normal impulses. Some might find them bizarre in each play's context. Regardless, I'll probably have a different theme next year anyway ... perhaps, “Kiss Me Drably?”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Kiss Me Weirdly, the Northfield Arts Guild annual fundraiser
WHEN: 8 p.m. Jan. 14,15, 21 and 22
WHERE: Northfield Arts Guild Theater
TICKETS: $10—you can order them online or by stopping at the Arts Guild.
A preview of the five short plays in Kiss Me Weirdly:
Boxing (Megan Proft & Adam Andreasen)—A man finds a box with something extremely important inside.
Courting (Shari Setchell & Brendon Etter)—Chuck and Rita are having marital problems about which they plead to a much higher, inscrutable authority for resolution.
Execute (Samrina Sabri & Mickey Morstad)—An unpleasant interaction may or may not end and may or may not start all over again.
Regenerate (Tania Larson Legvold & Tom Ett)—A couple tries to figure each other out with a therapeutic exercise that just doesn't make sense.
Sit (Hannah France & Ian Hathway )—Two people, one chair. Anger. Ridicule. Manipulation. Confusion. Groping.